I think we’ve found a new series for our ever-voracious readers to devour. The Andrea Carter books are set in California in the late 1880s, and follow the adventures of a 12-year old girl who lives the life our girls would love to live. (Read that: horses. having a horse of your own. having a big brother–they don’t have one, so they really don’t know what they’re missing. did I mention horses?) Published by Kregel Publications, this series tries to give the flavor of living in the late 1800s in the Fresno area. (In one book, Andrea is sent to a girls’ school in San Francisco for a term.)
The story really struck a chord with one of our girls who is a lot like Andrea: she’s good at things that might be considered tomboyish, and put off by the giggly, boy-crazy growing-up girls of her acquaintance.
We haven’t read the earlier books in the series, but there are enough clues in Trouble with Treasure to let us know that Andrea was once much more carefree than she used to be. She still loves to ride, to camp, to fish, even to pan for gold, but she’s also experiencing some growing pains, in the form of expectations as she approaches young womanhood.
(I like the sensible advice one of her brothers gives her on this point, but won’t spoil it for you.)
Excitement, mystery, adventure
Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure, along with the other books of the seriers, is aimed at a reading audience aged about 10-14. (The publisher gives the age range as a little younger, but I think the book might be a little to scary for a sensitive 8 or 9-year-old.) Note that this is the Old West, and guns play a role in the story (Isn’t there a gun battle in every Old West story? At least, it seems like it), though appropriately handled in the course of the story.
After getting into trouble in town (through no fault of her own, when she was trying to do the right thing!), Andrea is glad to go on a horseback camping trip with a couple of friends and one of her older brothers. The trip is adventurous enough in its own right, as they ride narrow trails in the mountainous wilderness, but the story takes an even more serious turn when Andrea’s brother is seriously hurt and everything depends on the three friends…
This is not one of those stories where the kids are smarter than the adults. Andrea’s older brother is very much in charge, even after he’s injured, though there are periods where Andrea and her friends have to do the best they can without his advice. The story has a Christian flavor, without overt references. In other words, the main character prays a few times, but there’s no Scripture and no preaching. There’s also no swearing–the bad guys do curse, but it’s reported as cursing, without explicitly listing any “interesting” words.
Violence is minimized and more is implied than shown in the story. For example, there’s a brief description of a bullet wound, without the reader having seen the actual shot. A man falls to his death, another dies in the gun battle (which we hear more than see), a horse tramples a rattlesnake and a girl is knocked down, hitting her head as she falls. Various characters are tied up or treated roughly, without a lot of details being given.
In the end, the Good Guys win, justice triumphs, and the bad guy gets his due.
I don’t know how accurate the language is. It might be updated for the modern reader–I’m no expert on how people talked in the 1800s, though we’ve learned some things in our interpreter training at a local historical site. However, the characters don’t sound completely modern and unbelievable (as we’ve found in some historical fiction meant for tweens), and I count that a plus.
A free study guide is available for download, including enrichment activities, if you want to supplement your reading. Lapbook packets are also available for purchase. As mentioned above, Andi has a blog where you can read more about her adventures
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Disclaimer: TOS Crew reviewers received a free copy of Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure for review. Opinions expressed here are those of this reviewer. TOS Crew reviewers receive no monetary compensation for product reviews.